Monday, January 14, 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits with Bacon, Cheddar and Chives

I'm back, sort of. When the wonderful Miss Whistle asked me to share a favorite recipe for the January Jeliciousness series on her blog, I jumped at the opportunity. I do miss flexing my creative muscles (wee ones, mind you) by styling and photographing the things that I make. For I have not neglected my baking and cooking as I have this blog.

In the spirit of testing the waters for a possible return to more regular posting here on Flour Child, below is the recipe I'm sharing on Miss Whistle. I'll be back again soon, maybe. In the meantime, please visit Miss W's blog for recipes, musing and lovely things.
If the menu at David LeFevre's restaurant, M.B. Post, in my hometown of Manhattan Beach, California, isn't tempting enough already, the bacon cheddar biscuits are reason alone to dine there. Studded with smoky bacon and sharp cheddar, the dough is surprisingly tender and light. When my girlfriends and I meet at M.B. Post for brunch or dinner, you won't hear a single word about dieting, nor do we feign guilt at eating these biscuits. They're an utterly worthwhile indulgence.

And while I appreciate that many (most) of us are focusing on virtuous eating now that the holidays are over, there's something to be said for gently easing back into healthy habits. So rather than quitting the bacon, butter and cheese cold turkey, you might make these biscuits for your next supper or brunch. Just don't eat the entire batch (easier said than done), and maybe serve them with lighter fare.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Bacon, Cheddar and Chives
Lightly adapted from David LeFevre
Yield: 12

If you don't have a kitchen scale, get one. Weighing ingredients makes all the difference in baking, especially when it comes to light, flaky biscuits. Grating the frozen butter seems like a fussy step, but it's incredibly easy and tremendously helpful in ensuring the dough is evenly flecked with cold butter. Speaking of which, make sure all of your ingredients are cold. I measure and mix the dry ingredients into a Ziploc bag and chuck it in the freezer for 30 minutes. (The dry mix will keep for up to a month in the freezer, and having it on hand is a time saver.)


12 ounces* (2 3/4 cups; see note, below) all-purpose flour
4 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (recommended: Diamond brand)
1 ounce (2 generous Tablespoons) sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen, grated (grate the butter onto a plate and keep it in the freezer while you prep the remaining ingredients)
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, diced into 1/4 inch pieces (1 1/4 cups measured after dicing)
6 ounces (3 1/2 slices) bacon, cooked until crispy, drained, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 ounce fresh chives, finely chopped (scant 1 cup measured after chopping)
1 cup buttermilk, cold, shaken thoroughly before measuring
1 Tablespoon clarified butter (melt 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cool, and skim milk solids off the top)
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

*The Los Angeles Magazine version of this recipe states that 12 ounces of all-purpose flour equates to 1 1/2 cups. When I measure 12 ounces of King Arthur All-Purpose Flour using the spoon and sweep method, I get 2 3/4 cups every time.


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the frozen grated butter and mix gently with a spoon until evenly distributed.

3. Add the cheddar cheese, bacon and chives and gently mix again to combine.

4. Pour the cold buttermilk into the mixture and gently fold it in until a dough begins to form. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and, with a light touch, knead the dough with your hands until it comes together. (Be careful not to overwork the dough, or it will toughen.)

5. Gently roll out the dough to 1 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 2 1/2 inch squares or rounds.

6. Brush the biscuits with clarified butter and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel.

7. Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat and/or parchment or waxed paper and bake for 12-20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. (Use a toothpick, skewer or cake tester to test the centers for doneness. In my oven, these biscuits take 20 minutes and I rotate the baking sheet after 10 minutes to ensure even browning.)

8. Remove the biscuits from the oven and let set for 5 minutes before serving. (I dare you to resist the crispy cheese bits that ooze onto the baking sheet as the biscuits bake.)

Minus the bacon, cheddar and chives, this recipe makes the absolute best plain biscuits; they're perfectly light and flaky with a crisp exterior and soft interior. (I dare say, they're better than Scott Peacock's version.) Do experiment with other savory or sweet mix-ins, and let me know how they turn out.